One factor we need to consider is often we equate the purpose of the church to doctrines and denominational systems within the church.
Religious Doctrines are religious creeds, philosophies, and standards a church abides by (e.g. We believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, we believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the evidence of speaking in tongues).
Denominational Systems are organizations that a church or ministry tend to identify themselves with to create a corporate culture with norms, rules, and expectations (e.g., Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Nondenominational).
Often doctrines and systems are manmade standards men set using many biblical principles to help bring structure to a ministry vision, a church, or church body. But this is not necessarily God's purpose of the church. Especially if the doctrine or system has biblical errors, untruths, and becomes more important than God, God's people, his word, vision for that ministry and the body of Christ as a whole.
Some church doctrines and systems may include standards regarding attire, code of conduct, and activities that are more based on what that doctrine’s or leader’s personal perspective of being saved, holy, or modest is, rather than God’s biblical perspective of salvation.
The other challenge we have with doctrines and systems is that if some people decide they believe something different than the doctrines and systems of that church, many become hurt by it. Especially if it excludes them, challenges a sin they want to compromise or engage in, or causes them to have to disconnect from that ministry. The challenge with this is, often if these perspectives are rooted in sin and compromise, a person will consider that assembly religious. The expectation of God loving all people, while recognizing that God has a standard for salvation has become distorted, confusing, and debatable, despite what the Bible says.
A lot of ideologies we call religious today are not religious. For example, if someone seeks to keep or iterate the standard of holiness that is the foundation of God and his biblical word, we automatically call that person "religious." Many often proclaim the concept of grace, or the fact that we all sin to counterattack what we deem to be "holier than though," "self-righteous jargon," regarding the need to be holy and pursue holiness. Holiness is not a doctrine or a system. It is a biblical truth of God's character and nature and is a biblical expectation he has for us as his people. God does not want his people willingly living in sin, bound by devils, and compromising his word and standards. He wants us to have a clear understanding of his holiness, and to live in pursuit of his holiness.
Because doctrines and systems have set standards to define holiness, and we have learned over the centuries that some of these religious acts and perceptions are not important to God, many have rebelled against God's standard for the church. Many want to throw God’s entire purpose of the church out rather than acknowledge and correct the errors within some systems and doctrines and teach people to have a relationship with God, and honor his word so that we begin to live and morph as his true church.
God's church is designed to save, deliver, heal, empower, and equip people to walk in their ordained destiny. That is the whole reason Jesus came to earth, was crucified, and rose for our sins.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down.
The church does what it is created to do. Jesus was an embodying representation of the church. Regardless of the actions of man, implementations of denominations, doctrines, and systems, God’s design of the church does not change and does not hurt anyone but the devil.
Though we have different churches all over our cities and the world, Jesus never said we were to be our own separate church. To Jesus, we are all one church and upon us all, he builds and fulfills his kingdom in the earth.
Matthew 16:13-18 The Amplified Bible Now when Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they answered, some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am? Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—ahuge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].
Ephesians 4:4-8 The Amplified Bible [There is] one body and one Spirit—just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received—[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all.
Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift. Therefore it is said, when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men.
As a church and as a church member, to Jesus, we are one body with different gifts, visions, workings, and operations. Our vision from ministry to ministry may be different, but we are one church.
1Corinthians 12:12-20 For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). For by [means of the personal agency of] one [Holy] Spirit we were all, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized [and by baptism united together] into one body, and all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit. For the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many. If the foot should say, Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?
If the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where [would be the sense of] hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where [would be the sense of] smell? But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation. But if [the whole] were all a single organ, where would the body be? And now there are [certainly] many limbs and organs, but a single body.
Each church and each person has a measure of Jesus that we bring to the world to help make up his complete church.
Ephesians 4:8-13 The Amplified Bible Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).
And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and
expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
1Corinthians 12:21-27 The Amplified Bible And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. But instead, there is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak. And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum),
Which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance], So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it. Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].
We were never supposed to be viewed as our own separate church. We are one church, even though we are in different locations. Our experiences within the church are not God’s church hurting us. Receiving this truth will help dismantle fears, indignations, generalizations, and separations that keep us bound in hurtful church experiences.